Category Archives: design

How Marvel Ruined The Movies

Over the past decade, we’ve been witness to something unprecedented in the history of film: the rise of the cinematic universe.

Pioneered by Marvel with their ever-expanding Avengers universe, this innovative and impressive model has been swiftly copied by others, and we’re already seeing attempts at DC’s Justice League universe, an expanded Star Wars, and even Harry Potter. While the success has certainly been varied, it would seem the standard is here to stay.

And here’re the reasons why that sucks.

Bigger Audiences Don’t Mean Better Movies

And while that goes without saying, the issue becomes especially apparent when movies become global phenomena in the way the MCU has become.

In his posts about the whitewashing of Doctor Strange, Evan brought up the case of film-critic-turned-writer C. Robert Cargill. In a podcast, Cargill discussed the whitewashing of “The Ancient One” and how the character of an old man from the Himalayas got turned into middle-aged woman from Scotland.

“The Ancient One… comes from a region of the world that is in a very weird political place. He originates from Tibet. So if you acknowledge that Tibet is a place and that he’s Tibetan, you risk alienating one billion [Chinese] people who think that that’s bullshit…”

-C. Robert Cargill, Double Toasted Podcast

While my co-author pointed out that the character of The Ancient One was set in Nepal, not Tibet, and while Cargill swiftly clarified that these were his thoughts, not Marvel’s, I do think he’s got a point. China has become a major consumer of western films, and the effects of that are already apparent.

2014’s Transformers 4: Age of Extinction surpassed Jame’s Cameron’s Avatar in Chinese theaters, and presently stands as the 4th highest-grossing film in the nation.

“The long and the short of it: Bay made a movie set and filmed in China, starring Chinese actors, using Chinese resources and pushing Chinese products, and in exchange, the movie gets a timely premiere across the country’s 18,000-plus movie screens.”

Nash Jenkins, TIME Magazine, 2014

The remake of Red Dawn, originally based on the idea of a Chinese invasion of the US, was hastily changed to cast North Korea as the principal villain for fear of offending Chinese viewers. Because the US getting conquered by a country smaller than the state of Louisiana is somehow believable.

tewaame

Now that’s not to say that Red Dawn would’ve been a good movie otherwise (it wouldn’t have)- just that it was made even more stupid in a greedy effort to rake in more cash. While we certainly didn’t lose a cinema classic in catering to political correctness, it does set a disturbing precedent for the future. Will films purposefully cut reference to Tibet, Taiwan, or the Uighurs? Will China’s despicable record on human rights and the environment be glossed over for box office sales?

And they’re not the only problem. Continue reading

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A Non-Female Writer’s Opinion About That Wonder Woman Promo Picture

As the title attests, and as you probably know by now, I’m a guy. A cisgendered male, to be more specific, which for those not in the know means that I was born male and identify as one. And as a guy I’ve been writing about feminism on this blog since day one. While it’s always been my goal for the site to be a platform for female voices speaking out on those same issues [made reality in having Kat hop on board as well as the majority of our guest writers] the truth is that there are an essentially infinite number of topics and only so many bloggers.

That’s all to say that ideally this probably should’ve been tackled by a woman. While a given female perspective may not necessarily be the correct one, the fact of the matter is that they would be able to write from a level of understanding that I cannot. Yet here I am, covering Wonder Woman, arguably one of the biggest feminist icons.

ewWW

Yesterday Entertainment Weekly shared an exclusive promo image from Warner Bros.’ upcoming Wonder Woman movie. Diana Prince AKA Wonder Woman, the titular character, played by Gal Gadot, is second from the left. The other women, from left to right, are her mother Hippolyta [Connie Nielsen],
Menalippe [Lisa Loven Kongsli], and General Antiope [Robin Wright].

As it’s made its way across the internet it has generally been regarded with a lot of excitement and enthusiasm, which should be no surprise given the fact that Wonder Woman is literally the biggest draw for people lining up to see Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. When it comes out in theatres next year it will have been Hollywood’s first return to female-led superhero movies since 2005’s Elektra, and arguably stands for so much more than the Jennifer-Garner-played red-clad assassin ever could.

wwMake no mistake, I am very excited for it. Seeing the Amazonian on the silver screen for the first time is also the primary reason I’m seeing BvS in the next few days, and a Wonder Woman t-shirt that I shamefully purchased at Hot Topic [shameful for the store, not the product] is the only merchandise I have bought and plan on buying [the poster on the right was free]. In spite of that, or maybe directly because of it, I ended up with a number of thoughts about the promo picture released. While the first point is the shortest and has nothing to do with my gender, the ones that follow may be defended by readers who can better relate. Which is to be expected, and that I hope people feel comfortable doing if they want to. Continue reading

A Very Special CWR Chistmas

Well readers, it’s that time of year again. Mildewed jack-o’-lanterns are being unceremoniously swept away from doorsteps as families hang lights and holly around their homes. Carols are beginning to play in stores across the nation and cheery folks, bundled up in their coats, are already beginning to make their lists. The elves and reindeer aren’t waiting for December and so, readers, neither shall I. And let me kick off the holidays here at Culture War Reporters by declaring this:

I hate Christmas.

Generally speaking, I always have.

And my family did celebrate the holidays, with my parents (who make Buddy the Elf look like Ebenezer Scrooge) even making a few luckless attempts at getting me to celebrate advent as well.

I’d say that my mom isn’t as bad, but her holiday tradition is- I make no exaggeration- screaming “IT’S # DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS!” at the top of her lungs.

But for all the zeal my parents had I was generally free from the hustle and bustle of the season. One of the benefits of growing up in the middle of a primarily Muslim country is that one isn’t generally blasted with “Carol of the Bells” until one is prepared to put a drill to one’s head.

Coming to America, that was something I had difficulty adjusting to, to put things mildly. But that’s not the issue I have- not entirely anyways.

It was the expectation. Continue reading

The Case For Unisex Bathrooms

Well readers, once again this post comes to you late- and you can blame a combination of my own schedule and the complexity of addressing theological minutiae. Rather than trying to grapple with the subject of superstition in contemporary Christianity, we’re going to be looking at an equally strange subject:

Unisex bathrooms.

Now if you’re like me you probably don’t spend much time thinking about the bathroom- except when you’re cleaning it in preparation for guests or writhing in agony after eating a Big Mac because you didn’t have any options (seriously, when did McDonald’s start putting glass in their burgers?). Which is why it should come as some surprise to you that the city of Houston is up in arms over that very subject- or more specifically, who gets to use ’em.

Now a few of you may vaguely recall that in 2014 the city of Houston passed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, or “HERO”, a piece of legislation banning discrimination in terms of employment, housing, and use of public accommodations. For the most part there was no controversy over most of the ordinance, which prevents discrimination against race, sexual orientation, sex, and marital status, but what really riled up some was the inclusion of the following element-“Gender Identity.”

Now the inclusion of the term “Gender Identity” is important because it means that transsexuals may, without harassment or prevention, be permitted to use the bathroom of whatever gender they identify as. In other words, a woman who was once a man would be allowed to use the male bathroom and vice versa.

Needless to say, some folks were not happy about this. Continue reading

Can A Feminist Wear High Heels?

And that’s a weird question to ask- especially coming from me.

Yours truly, for any new readers, is a dude. I’ve never worn high heels, and with my long and elegant (if somewhat hairy) legs, I’ve never had cause to.

Like this, only more so.

In spite of my obvious lack of experience, compounded with a whole gamut of cultural-historial-societal variables, I’d still wholeheartedly call myself a feminist. As such, I still feel compelled to ask-

Can a feminist wear high heels?

And I know this isn’t a new issue. For years, folks have generally agreed that high heels are uncomfortable and impractical. There’s not shortage of studies demonstrating the range of health issues they can cause: calf cramps, chronic (and permanent) pain, pelvic issues, callouses and corns, inflammation, pinched nerves, tendinitis, and a host of others which I could spend this entire post just listing.

I’m not going to do that.

According to science and common ****ing sense, no one’s are…

High heels are bad for you. That’s a cold, hard medical fact, and one that most everyone’s familiar with by now. Still, women continue to wear ’em, which again begs the question of “Why in heaven’s name would they put themselves through this?” Continue reading

Passing Post-Modernism

It’s 2015, readers, and what better way to start off the year that’s just beginning than by railing on an idea that need to end? Yup, we’re talking Postmodernism here.

Not too long ago, I wrote an article giving an overview of Postmodernism, and it nearly killed me. Yours truly tries to make a point of not including my own judgments in these posts and just let folks draw their own conclusions, but this one- gah. Took every ounce of my (limited) restraint not to rip it to pieces and cackle victoriously as I squat over the grave of Jacques Derrida and…

…well I’m getting ahead of myself, aren’t I?

What’s Postmodernism? Continue reading

The 50/50 Fallacy [Yes, It’s Another Big Hero 6 Post]

So, as I said I probably would, I did end up seeing Big Hero 6 this past Tuesday. While I ended up enjoying it a fair amount the problem, if I can call it that and which the post I just linked to addresses, was in the back of my head the entire time. To reiterate it here, the idea that both a city and almost the entire cast of superhero team had to be altered to make it more relatable, presumably to a Western [read: American] audience.

As mentioned I did like it, but during and after the film I was struck by the fact that a balance, if that’s what the creators were truly going for, was never really attained. To start with, San Fransokyo.

Based off of the name one would assume that this would be equal parts American and Japanese city, a blend that encapsulated the best of both worlds. The actual design approach is laid bare when considering the words co-director Don Hall used when describing the setting [emphasis added]:

an alternate version of San Francisco.

“I love the Painted ladies. We gave them a Japanese makeover; we put a cafe on the bottom of one. They live above a coffee shop.”

“Where Hiro lives, it feels like the Haight. When you get to the downtown area, that’s when you get the most Tokyo-fied, that pure, layered, dense kind of feeling of the commercial district there. When you get out of there, it becomes more San Francisco with the Japanese aesthetic.”

To put this in more musical terms, this isn’t so much a mashup as it is a remix. The former is a blend of two or more parts with both being displayed prominently, the latter is a modified version of something, the original of which is typically easily identifiable. Continue reading